Mike McMorris grew up on a farm just north of Guelph, Ont., right across the road from the Elora Beef Research Centre. McMorris brings extensive educational and industry experience to his new role as CEO of the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC).
In this position, the agricultural expert strongly believes he has the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of Ontario livestock farmers, whether that means more profit, time saved or reduced frustration. We asked him five questions.
Please tell us about your career and educational background.
I went to the University of Guelph for a BSc in Animal Science and an MSc in Animal Breeding. My career has been quite varied. I did extension work with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), served as executive director of Beef Farmers of Ontario, worked as director of operations with Agricorp and was also general manager of AgSights.
How has your previous professional experience prepared you for leading LRIC?
My past roles have included many of the key elements needed to do this – performing research, determining research priorities, creatively approaching problems and working with a wide variety of people and organizations.
I also understand the reality of having limited resources and, perhaps most importantly, know that we can accomplish so much more when we all work together collaboratively.
What are your first priorities for LRIC?
My first priority is to meet with each funding member to better understand their needs. LRIC must show a return on the investment members make and we can only do that if we truly understand what they value. I have met with about half so far and, to no surprise, the members need very different things from LRIC. Based on all the feedback, next up will be to focus our resources on meeting those needs and reporting to each member in a way that respects their needs and their busy schedules as well.
Where do you see LRIC in the future?
Since inception about six years ago, LRIC has done good work in research, helping sector groups to determine priorities, identify emerging issues and better communicate what is being done and said about livestock research.
Now, LRIC needs to turn some attention to innovation, which means different things to different people.
My definition is ‘change that leads to a positive outcome’. So, we’ll be focused on developing ways to get research findings into action on the farm.
What interests you outside of agriculture?
The main thing in my life is family. I have three wonderful children and an amazing grandson. I am also a long-suffering and now highly hopeful fan of the Maple Leafs. And I learned to play bagpipes later in life and am a member of the Fergus Pipe Band.
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